21 years have passed since the occupation of Zangilan district of the Republic of Azerbaijan by the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia.
Zangilan is one of the most beautiful places in Azerbaijan with its fascinating nature and rich natural resources. Its location in the foothills of the Lesser Caucasus and on the bank of the Araz River and its possession of rivers like the Hakari, the Okhchuchay and the Basitchay turned Zangilan into an attractive area.
Apart from being a territory with enormous amounts of natural beauty, Zangilan is considered one of the most ancient settlements in Azerbaijan. The caves in Susan and Asgulum Mountains testify to the existence of primitive human beings in this area. Besides archaeological monuments like ancient residential areas, cemeteries and graves, Zangilan also had different architectural monuments. These included sites such as the “Maiden Tower” of the 12th century in Amirkhanly village, the round tower of unknown age in Hajally village, the 14th century octagonal tomb in Mammadbayli village, the 14th century crypt in Yenikand village, the Albanian church in Ashaghy Yemzaly village, and various mosques and castles.
Before the occupation there were 10453 dwelling houses, 28200 subsidiary buildings, 195 administrative buildings, 870 farm subsidiary buildings, 128 cultural centres, 123 educational institutions, technical schools, 64 health care facilities, health centre, 80 communication institutions, 7 mobile autoclubs, 21 film projectors, 2 History-Ethnography museums, 142 shopping centres, 49 public-catering establishments, 2 wine mills, a cannary, a textile factory, a brick factory, a bread-making plant, a gravel plant, 2 asphalt plants, water pumping station complex, 8 railway stations, poultry farm, cattle fattening complex, 3400 hectares of vineyards, 6 artificial water basins in Zangilan.
However, Zangilan also suffered from the Republic of Armenia’s insidious, destructive policy of annexation and ethnic cleansing. Zangilan was occupied by the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia on October 29, 1993. After occupation of Fuzuli and Jabrayil districts of Azerbaijan, the population of Zangilan during 67 days struggled under the siege and in order to remain alive they obliged to cross the Araz River, and through the territories of the Islamic Republic of Iran fled to the different regions of Azerbaijan. As a result of the acts of violence and ethnic cleansing carried out by the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia in the course of this occupation, more than 200 people were killed, 127 became disabled, 12800 children were injured and 395 children lost their parents, and more than 40 thousand people became internally displaced persons.
The relevant documents adopted by the international community with regard to the aggression of the Republic of Armenia towards the Republic of Azerbaijan, especially four UN Security Council resolutions (822, 853, 874, 884), resolution 1416, adopted on 25 January 2005 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, resolution 62/243 “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 14 March 2008, European Parliament report “The need for an EU strategy for the South Caucasus” from 20 May 2010, reaffirmed the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan, recognized the occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and its surrounding districts and demanded the withdrawal of all occupying Armenian forces from these territories.
However, the afore-mentioned international documents remain unimplemented by the Republic of Armenia.
The Republic of Azerbaijan is confident that for the purposes of lasting peace, security and stability in the South Caucasus, there is no alternative other than by concerted efforts of the international community to convince the Republic of Armenia to put an end to the illegal occupation of the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, to ensure that inalienable rights of Azerbaijani internally displaced persons to return to their places of origin is fully recognized and implemented.